The Most Terrifying Murderer on Television is a Woman You’ve Never Even Heard Of.
Bone chilling music crashes through the scene; a familiar uneasiness comes over me. Helena is here, she commands every inch of my Macbook as if she is a virus that I can’t exit out of. I am entranced by this intense and naïve creature, who dims all those around her. In “Effects of External Conditions” we met this beautifully haunting character, and although you may expect to be repulsed by her barbaric and gruesome disposition, you can’t help but savor the moments she graces your screen. There’s just one problem: why isn’t she hailed as one of the best characters of our generation? Why isn’t she on t-shirts? Why isn’t she the center conversation? The topic of more articles? Why is it that, Tatiana Maslany, the fearless woman behind this character isn’t recognized and admired as affectionately as she should be? Is it because she isn’t a man? Is it because her killings aren’t justified with an alpha male complex like that of Dexter Morgan? Or is it because audiences have yet to discover this unique, little show?
It is both unsettling and irksome to me that I know at least five people who have DEXTER t-shirts, but are oblivious to the captivating world Graeme Manson and John Fawcett created. This is not to diminish the genius that is DEXTER, for it is a groundbreaking show in it’s own right. Even so, I cannot seem to understand why viewers are so apt to celebrate this tortured man who has no issue playing God, yet shun this powerful and horrifying woman as a public enemy. The only difference in their approach lies in each character’s answer to the ever-present question: What is normal, and does it matter? For one is pretending to be normal, while normality is a foreign concept to the other.
ORPHAN BLACK does not pity Helena, nor does it make excuses to appease her critics. She is what she is and that’s just something we all need to accept, no matter how unnatural it may seem. She’s a cold-blooded killer who has earned her reputation time and again, yet exists in this Peter Pan-like state. Unlike the age-old tale of a boy’s refusal to grow up, Helena simply doesn’t know how to. Helena was never shown affection; and was brought up with the knowledge that she was the original clone, that the others were just mere copies of her God-like physique and intellect. She doesn’t make these decisions; she was and continues to be influenced, and is solely going off of the path set forth by her capturers. DEXTER, on the other hand, is his own judge and jury. He is in a constant state of limbo, for he tries to justify what he’s doing in his own head; a quality that humanizes him. In a sense, Dexter is much more nefarious. He is fully aware of what he is doing and actively is his greatest critic. Helena, however, ruthlessly moves through the motions of a serial killer, with an acute sense of femininity matched by no one.
As much as I respect the Emmy Association, I can’t help but think they share the same emotional complex as that of Dexter. How was Maslany overlooked for this years Emmy nominations? I cannot name another actress working today more deserving of that nomination. I am continually blown away with the performances given by the nominees, and they are all exceptionally strong performers. However, the versatility of Maslany displayed by her range of characters, a quality unmatched by any other actor nominated this year. Helena is, as I’ve expressed, one of the most potent and raw characters I’ve ever seen. Portraying that character alone should have gotten her a nomination. I cannot analyze Cosima, Sarah, Allison, and Rachel, for their genius and depth would be enough to write an article three times this length.
ORPHAN BLACK has such a firm and unwavering following. The #CloneClub is helping launch this show into the mega hit it deserves to be. My only wish is that people start to recognize it for what it is, a brilliant masterpiece.
Basically, if I don’t see Helena on the shirt of a fifteen year old shopping in the local Hot Topic in the near future, I will be very, very displeased.
Victoria Nelli loves TV so much that she is paying $30,000 a year to learn about it in College. When she’s not learning about TV she enjoys writing about her favorite shows, interviewing anyone in the industry that will let her, and ranting about how underrated Parks and Recreation is. She is very much aware of her Netflix addiction, and no she will not be seeking help anytime soon. You can follow her on Twitter @VictoriaNelli